Circus Circus – The Next Implosion?

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It kills you to even think it. It was the destination that introduced you to Las Vegas as a kid, the destination you visit today to get that “old Vegas” vibe and enjoy low limits. Circus Circus is one of the longest standing resorts on the strip, opening in 1968, and it pains me to say that she is bound to meet the same fate as her notable neighbors.

Circus Circus opened solely as a casino in 1968 and was constructed for $15 million dollars. A hotel was later added to attract guests with deeper pockets financed by a loan from the Teamsters pension fund. Over the decades, Circus Circus has proven a Las Vegas staple, adding hotel towers, an amusement park, merging with neighbor Slots-A-Fun, featuring one of the best steakhouses in Las Vegas and even a recently added water park. All good things must end though and our circus themed property is no exception. Hell, they turned the famed Riviera into a parking lot, nothing is sacred. At the end of the day, it is difficult to exist in a poor location on the strip without any surrounding attractions.

Calling out the death of Circus Circus isn’t revolutionary. It’s been identified as a potential victim for some time. She’s old, tired, showing her wear and MGM Resorts hasn’t exactly plugged a ton of dollars into the property. A Motley Fool Article really hit the nail on the head saying it “Simply isn’t worth fixing up at this point. It would cost billions to entirely revamp them, so they’ll keep them up just long enough to squeeze some money out of them until imploding them for a new resort”.

The numbers don’t lie either. According to MGM Resorts 2016 annual report, Circus Circus brought in the lowest EBITDA (Profit) of any of its Las Vegas properties. In 2016, Circus Circus achieved just under $62 million dollars in EBITDA. To an average guy, that feels pretty good but compare that figure to the $479 million Bellagio generated or the $330 million that the MGM Grand brought in and you realize that the aging property may be nearing the end of its useful life. Circus Circus has been MGM’s profitability laggard for some time with no signs of a turnaround.

Implosion may not be imminent as there are still dollars to milk while MGM Resorts gauges the business climate on the north end of the strip. Rumors of Fontainebleau finding a new, engaged owner paired with the resumption of the Resorts World project may have MGM brass dreaming of a new resort to capitalize on a revitalized north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

Check out our piece saying goodbye to the Las Vegas Club – Another Vegas property meeting the wrecking ball.

Access the MGM Resorts Annual Report 

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14 thoughts on “Circus Circus – The Next Implosion?”

  1. Both Tropicana and Circus Circus will eventually need to be imploded. Tropicana is a DEAD casino property and Circus Circus has gotten next to no investment from MGM (I don’t care about the 5 new waterslides). When Vegas implodes Circus Circus it will be one hell of a show.

  2. MGM would be stupid to implode Circus at this point in time! It’s got to be fully depreciated and far into the “Cash Cow” corner on that infamous BCG chart.

    I’m sure MGM learned the lesson from Boyd when they (Boyd) killed the Stardust in the hope of building yet another megaresort at a higher scale, the carcass of which stands as a monument to corporate greed.

  3. I miss the old Vegas, the new resort casinos can’t match the charm of old Vegas. Thanks for keeping the memories of days gone by alive.

  4. Circus Circus has been a dump, for a long time. For a property to survive in Vegas, it needs players. MGM bosses have taken every decent player out of CC and moved them to other casinos..

  5. That is right across from the new Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion(Also known as Las Vegas World Trade Center) onto the old Riviera site. The money is already in place for it. Circus is going bye bye no doubt. They will be building something that caters to a conventioneer. That is our economy now not clowns and kids games.

  6. My first visit was in the late 70’s and I visited last year , and honestly felt like I went back in time ! There is nothing updated here and I shudder to think how the rooms must be . It is sad MGM let it get to wear it is, as they cold have invested more into it .

  7. Keep Circus Circus. Invest some money in it. Not too much of old Vegas left which a lot of people miss. You have the only amusement Park in Las Vegas which is used year round since it is inside and kids still love the arcades. I am a long time Vegas resident and my Grandkids and their friends go several times a year to amusement park and as teenagers they even still like the arcade. figure out a way to cater to both tourists and locals. Oh I forgot you really don’t care for locals since you still charge them for parking. I don’t remember the last time I have been to the strip other then taking kids to Circus Circus. Even when people come from out of town and they want to go to strip I tell them that they are on their on, especially last summer after I had an out of town friend stayed at Aria. Every time I went there to spend time with her I paid $12 to $15. Now if I have friends coming to town I suggest local casinos where they don’t have to pay for parking and for high resort fees and still get free drinks when gambling. Quit being so greedy MGM!

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